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NGS: An advanced DNA analysis technique to provide the best possible treatment for cancer patients



Each year, nearly 20,000 cancer patients will undergo a NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) sequencing examination as part of this project, which will be launched in the fall for a period of three years. These NGS tests will be reimbursed for certain specific clinical indications.

Next-generation sequencing is a great example of improved care with technology. This modern DNA testing technique makes it possible in particular to determine in advance which treatment will be the most effective for a patient suffering from cancer. The patient benefits from better care compared to conventional chemotherapy and feels fewer side effects. The application of this technique on a large scale and in an organised way is a big step forward in the field of oncology care.

Companion diagnoses

Next generation sequencing gene panel tests are diagnostic tests that can predict whether any treatment will have the desired effect or not. This is called companion diagnostics. NGS technology can analyse millions of DNA sequences at the same time, unlike conventional DNA tests where only one gene is examined at a time. On the basis of this information, specialists are able to choose the treatment that will specifically work against the genetic disorder that causes cancer. More and more targeted treatments of this kind have appeared in recent years.

Given the level of complexity and high cost of NGS, this technology is currently used primarily in highly specialised centres, in clinical trials targeting new targeted treatments. However, the price of this technique is gradually becoming more affordable, making it possible to apply it on a larger scale. The goal is that the NGS technology has a structural place in the diagnosis of cancer, and this, so that a maximum of patients can enjoy the benefits of this innovative technology.

Quality assurance

Laboratories wishing to participate in the project can register to include the NGS in their routine program for cancer diagnosis. Only laboratories with accreditation for NGS diagnostics will be able to adhere to the NGS convention. Laboratories and hospitals wishing to participate will have to form specialised NGS networks in which they will need to accumulate the required expertise in this area. In this way, patients will be assured that the complex results of their NGS test will be interpreted at best. In addition, networking in the form of networks will keep expenses under control.

The results of the NGS tests will be anonymised and saved in a separate database on the website This information is valuable if we are to make sound policy decisions in the future. In particular, they will make it possible to better assess the incidence of certain DNA disorders and to determine which treatments are effective for which patient.

In addition to offering NGS tests in field networks, the aim is also to harmonise reimbursement procedures for diagnostic tests and personalised treatments. The procedure for reimbursement of new personalised treatments is often faster than that for the reimbursement of diagnostic tests. This gives rise to situations where the patient is already reimbursed for personalised treatment before even being reimbursed for the prior diagnosis test. 

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